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December again, another year almost over and what have you done? It only seems like yesterday that I was out on the beach with the sun bouncing off the sea, lines of fluffy white jet trails criss-crossing the divine clear blue sky, birds languishing on the rocks…actually that was only yesterday, what fabulous sunny days we’ve been having lately, but they’re paying for it on the continent with rivers and lakes south of the Alps about to burst their banks. I love watching planes passing overhead, I always imagine that I’m in them with that stunning view of the Southern Irish coastline and in no time I’d be landing in Heathrow or Frankfurt or Schiphol to another world.
What an extraordinary year it has been though; luckily we were treated to top class albums by David Bowie and Leonard Cohen before they took their final curtain calls – loads of content from unique perspectives for which we’ve got to be grateful.
It has been a fertile year for Irish artists as well and we do very well down here with quite a few of those musicians visiting us to take advantage of the great venues to perform despite the rowdy crowds, and a few hanging around to record in the conducive environment. Though local boy Brian Deady’s album ‘Non Fiction’ was released this time last year, it really was 2016 before it took off with the wonderful southern soul single ‘Clap Both My Hands’. Last month regular visitor Mick Flannery released the album I’ve always reckoned has been bursting to get out of him; Ray (Blackwell) pointed out the influence of Kendrick Lemar on this album and now that he has I think I’m enjoying it even more. Speaking of Ray, he has flagged online and Youtube sensation BRY who has just released his first album and will be playing in De Barra’s Folk Club for a festive treat on Tuesday, December 27.
Guitar festival stalwarts, the Rusangano Family, have released an album ‘Let the Dead Bury the Dead’, as have King Kong Company who got together when they were all studying at Waterford Institute of Technology and have built up a following with their value for money live performances. Cathy Davey came down recently to show off her latest release, usual quirky top drawer. Bell X1 released ‘Arms’ and maybe if we watch the space hard enough they may turn up to entertain us in the not too distant…
To my mind James Vincent McMorrow’s third album ‘We Move’ is his best but that is just an opinion and it’s different for everyone, by all accounts he enjoyed himself and was impressed by the facilities down in Leap, as was Lisa O’Neill who is coming back there to play again on December 11 with her album ‘Pothole in the Sky’.
Attempting to mention everyone would be like me trying to herd sheep, most of them would get away. Declan O’Rourke has reimagined some of his classics with a 50-piece orchestra on his new album ‘In Full Colour’ and I bet there’s something Christmassy in there, but if I was pushed to say which one of this year’s albums I’m enjoying most right now I would say Cian Nugent’s ‘Night Fiction’ for just about everything.
If you have been good all year then now is the time to cut loose and treat yourself, wishing you all a very merry Christmas.